1980 Toyota Corolla Tercel Liftback

“… a price that belies its good looks.

1980 was the first year that Toyota sold the Corolla Tercel in the United States. Despite its name, the front-wheel-drive Tercel was not related in any meaningful way to the rear-wheel-drive Corolla, but Toyota evidently figured that adding the Corolla name would make buyers more confident in their purchasing decision. The Tercel was available as a 2-Door Sedan and a 3-Door Liftback (a four-door sedan would arrive one year later).

Corolla Tercel Liftback pages from the 1980 Corolla brochure

The Corolla Tercel Liftback was a small and light car, with a 160 inch length (about 20 inches shorter than a 2022 Corolla) and a curb weight of 2,030 pounds. The Liftback’s standard powertrain combined a 60 bhp 1.5 liter/99 ci inline four paired to a five-speed manual (a three-speed automatic was optional). Unusually for a front-wheel-drive car, the Tercel’s engine was longitudinally placed, which Toyota claimed resulted in easier serviceability.

Road & Track clocked a 0-60 time of 14.8 seconds in a loaded Tercel Liftback SR-5. As might be expected with a 99 cubic inch engine and a five-speed, fuel economy was impressive—33 city/43 highway by the day’s standards. With an 11.9-gallon fuel tank, a Tercel driver could expect a range of 330 to 365 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

The Liftback had more standard equipment than the 2-Door Sedan, which was the loss leader. At $4,848, the Corolla Tercel Liftback Deluxe included body side moldings, front-wheel-drive, rack-and-pinion steering, power-assisted front disc/rear drum brakes, and 155/80R12 tires on 12-inch wheels. Inside, reclining front bucket seats and a split-back fold-down rear seat were included.

The $600 SR-5 package added black accents, side striping, and 165/70SR13 radial tires (a size still available thanks to Vredestein) on 13-inch wheels. Inside, SR-5 features included a cloth interior, full interior carpeting, a tachometer, and an AM/FM/MPX stereo radio.

Options were relatively few, but did include aluminum alloy wheels ($215), a rear window washer/wiper ($75), and air conditioning ($520).

I haven’t seen a first-generation Tercel in decades. Make mine Light Blue Metallic, please.

Other Toyotas I have written about include the 1981 Celica Sport Coupe, the 1982 Celica Supra hatchback coupe, the 1983 Camry sedan, and the 1985 MR2 coupe. This list hints that I should write about an actual Corolla soon.


1983 Toyota Camry sedan

“Introducing the family Camry”

The Toyota Camry debuted in the middle of the 1983 model year, in four-door sedan and five-door hatchback models. Instead of being designed to compete with European manufacturers, the Camry was designed to compete with American cars—in fact, Car and Driver famously wrote that “the Camry drives as if Buick engineers had moonlighted on its development.” The Camry’s measurements ended up splitting the difference in size between the GM J-body (Buick Skyhawk, Cadillac Cimarron, Chevrolet Cavalier, Oldsmobile Firenza, and Pontiac 2000) and the GM X-body (Buick Skylark, Chevrolet Citation, Oldsmobile Omega, and Pontiac Phoenix).

Power for the first-year Camry was provided by a 92 bhp 2.0 liter/122 ci inline four with fuel injection, which was available with either a standard five-speed manual or an optional four-speed automatic. With the manual, 0-60 mph came in a little under 13 seconds in the 2,236-pound car. Mileage was good—32 city/44 highway by the standards of the day (25/31 by modern standards). With a 14.5-gallon gas tank, a Camry owner could expect a 365 to 495 mile range with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard equipment on the $7,988 (about $20,000 in today’s dollars—a 2018 Camry starts at $23,500) DLX sedan included front wheel drive, a four-wheel independent suspension, and 185/70R13 tires (a size still available from Kumho and Vredestein) on 13-inch wheels. Upgrading to the $9,698 LE made the four-speed automatic standard and added variable-effort power steering, rear window defogger, dual remote side mirrors, full instrumentation, reclining cloth bucket seats, and an AM/FM stereo radio with five speakers.

Individual options were relatively few and included air conditioning, sunroof, and a cruise control/power locks/power windows package.

The first-generation Camry was well received and got good reviews—the tagline in Car and Driver‘s test was “At home in America.” 52,651 were sold in that first model year, with sales increasing steadily throughout the decade.

Unlike other Toyotas that are deemed more collectible from the eighties (Land Cruisers, pickup trucks, Celicas, Supras, MR2s), first-generation Camrys rarely come up for sale for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors.

1985 Toyota MR2 coupe

One of my favorite high-school teachers owned a MR2—she caused somewhat of a stir when she showed up in it the first time.

“Fun is taking the all-new MR2 out to play.”

The MR2 was undoubtedly one of the most interesting cars Toyota brought to market in the 1980s (development had begun in 1976). Visually evolved from the SV-3 concept car shown at the 1983 Tokyo Motor Show, MR2 stood for “midship runabout 2-seater”.

A small sports car (about fourteen inches shorter than a 2019 Toyota 86 hatchback coupe) with an angular wedge body, the MR2 became available for the 1985 model year, entering a market that already included the Bertone (formally Fiat) X1/9 and the Pontiac Fiero. MR2s got really good reviews from the likes of Motor Trend (winning “Import Car of the Year”), Road & Track, and, later, Automobile—who famously compared it to a Ferrari 308 and found the MR2 to be the winner.

The MR2’s engine was the 16-valve 1.6 liter/97 ci 4A-GE fuel injected double overhead cam inline four, with 112 bhp. Paired with the standard five-speed manual transmission (a four-speed automatic transmission was optional) in the 2,350-pound “Mister Two,” this engine was good for 0-60 in under 9 seconds and a top speed of about 120 mph. Mileage was impressive: 27 city/32 highway by the standards of the day (23/29 by modern standards). With a 10.8-gallon fuel tank, an MR2 owner could expect a range of 250 to 285 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard equipment in the $10,999 car (about $26,300 in 2019 dollars or about what a 2019 Toyota 86 costs) included rack-and-pinion steering, power disc brakes with ventilated front rotors, and 185/60R14 steel-belted radial blackwall tires (a size still readily available) on 14-inch alloy wheels. Inside, automatic climate control, power side mirrors, tinted glass, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel, and an AM/FM stereo radio were included in an interior that many considered roomy for the MR2’s size.

Options available for the 1985 MR2 included air conditioning ($840), a moonroof ($300), cruise control ($185), power windows and locks ($305), and an AM/FM stereo radio with cassette ($365).

MR2s do have club support, including a reasonably active forum. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1985 MR2 in #1/Concours condition is $18,000, with a more normal #3/Good car going for $8,200.

Though MR2 sighting are relatively rare in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds, first-generation MR2s (sold up until the 1989 model year) show up fairly often on eBay Motors. As I update this blog entry in February 2019, there’s a Super Red II 1986 with black leather seats, a five-speed manual, and 94,000 miles with an $11,900 “Buy It Now” price.

Make mine the same Super Red II as that high school teacher owned, please.

Updated February 2019.

1982 Toyota Celica Supra hatchback coupe

This post was one of my first entries in this blog. I’ve updated it to reflect both changes in my posting style and substantial improvements in available data.

“The ultimate performance Toyota.”

Remember when Toyota made a reasonable amount of cool sporty cars?

I do—I believe they nailed it with the Mark II Celica Supra. First, the styling: though based on the Celica, the longer hood (to accommodate the Supra’s inline six) along with the pop-up headlights (you’ll have to believe me that they were very cool in the 1980s) substantially changed the look of the car. It wasn’t just the styling—Supras also included a notably higher level of interior equipment.

1982 Toyota Celica Supra, the 1982 Motor Trend Import Car Of The Year.
1982 Toyota Celica Supra, picture courtesy of Motor Trend from their Import Car Of The Year photo shoot.

The engine was Toyota’s 145 bhp 5M-GE 2.8 liter/168 ci dual overhead cam fuel injected inline six, giving a 0-60 time of about 9 seconds (spritely for 1982) and a top speed of approximately 125 mph. Over the next few years, engine power would climb to 161 bhp.

Mileage with the standard five-speed manual transmission was 21 city/34 highway by the standards of the day (19/31 by today’s standards). Choosing the optional four-speed automatic transmission reduced highway mileage to 32 highway. With a 16.1-gallon gas tank, Supra drivers could expect to drive 360 to 395 miles before seeking more fuel.

All Celica Supras included a four-wheel independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, cruise control, and a tilt steering wheel. Two models were available: the L– (for “Luxury”) Type and the P– (for “Performance”) Type. The $13,598 L-Type (about $36,700 in 2018 dollars) included standard power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, and P195/70R-14 tires (a size still readily available) on 14 x 5.5-inch wheels.

Moving up to the $14,598 P-Type (about $39,400 in today’s dollars) added fender flares, a limited slip differential, eight-way adjustable sport seats, and P225/60HR-14 tires (a size currently available only from BFGoodrich) on 14 x 7 inch aluminum wheels.

Here’s a classic commercial, with legendary (and very tall) race car driver Dan Gurney shilling for the brand new Supra.

The second-generation Supra was well-received—Car and Driver made it part of their first 10Best in 1983. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1982 Toyota Celica Supra in #1/Concours condition is $33,200. The value for a more “normal” #3/Good condition example is $9,200.

This generation of Supras maintains some presence in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—when I last updated the contents of this post in December 2018, there was a Silver 1985 Supra with Gray cloth seats and 109,000 miles for sale in Hemmings asking $12,500.

Make mine Silver, please.

Updated March 2022.

1981 Toyota Celica Sport Coupe

We do requests on Eighties Cars, whether or not they are definitive ones. A friend of mine mentioned his 1981 Celica in one of the forums I frequent, and that was enough inspiration for me.

 “The Ultimate Toyota.”

1981 was the final model year for the second-generation Toyota Celica, which had debuted in 1978. Despite this, there were some significant changes, including a new engine.

1981 Celica and Celica Supra poster, courtesy of Flickr user Alden Jewell.

The Celica’s new engine for 1981 was the 22R 97 bhp 2.4 liter/144 ci inline four with a two-barrel carburetor. Paired with a five-speed manual transmission, fuel economy was an impressive 25 city/37 highway by the standards of the day (22/34 by today’s standards). Choosing the optional four-speed automatic transmission dropped ratings slightly to 25 city/35 highway (22/32 by 2018 standards). With a curb weight of a little over 2,400 pounds, 0-60 times were in the mid nine-second range—respectable for 1981.

The Celica Sport Coupe was available in ST and GT trim levels. Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the Celica ST ($6,699 or about $19,900 in today’s dollars) included electronic ignition, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and 185/70R14 steel-belted radial tires (a size still readily available) on 14-inch wheels. Inside, reclining front bucket seats, “cut pile wall-to-wall carpeting,” and an FM radio were included.

Moving up to the GT ($7,429 or about $22,100 in 2018 dollars) added features such as tungsten halogen high beams, styled steel wheels, dual outside mirrors, a dressed-up instrument panel and console, a locking gas cap, and an AM/FM/MPX stereo with four speakers.

1000 views badge

Optional equipment included air conditioning, a sunroof, and power steering. Aluminum alloy wheels, a rear window defogger, and cruise control were GT only options.

Celicas of this generation sometimes come up for sale in Hemmings Motor News and eBay Motors, but there were none for sale when I updated this post in July 2021. In August 2020, Bring a Trailer sold a Silver 1981 Celica GT with gray plaid bucket seats for $5,700.

Updated July 2021. In June 2020, Autopolis published a typically thoughtful post on the second-generation Celicas.